A Letter To Her Friend: Dear Johnnie


When I find a note one of the members of this family wrote, I always crack a smile. I smile because these letters reveal more than any census record, birth certificate, or newspaper article could ever show–their personality, their humor, and their love and at times hate for people.

In this featured letter, Geraldine Wilson writes to a friend, Johnnie, on February 19, 1976. It reads:

Dear Johnnie,

Perhaps you think by now that I have forgotten you and that I do not tend to keep my promise to write. Such is not the case; meaning, I do intend to write. It is important for me to write to you. I need to let you know how very deeply I appreciated your help. It is important to me to let you know how I came to depend on you. You and John always came on time and always checked to see if I needed anything.

It had taken a long time for me to write to you for a few reasons. I have been coming to Mississippi since 1964. Twice I stayed for almost a year. Other times I stayed for anywhere from a few days to two or three weeks. Sometimes I came two or four times a year. In 1966 my mother first worked in Mississippi for six months. In 1867, she moved to Jackson from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. So, Mississippi became, in this way, my second home. (My real home–where I was born is Philadelphia.) It became my “home” because my mother lived there and because I grew to love the Black people I met in Mississippi. My mother was a special kind of woman-strong, fair, full of humor and a sense of justice and right. She loved people, especially Black people. She especially Black people. She especially loved young people. She and I were very close and my grief at her death is very deep.

I felt that I had to think about a lot of things. Almost without thinking about it I had to wait-wait a while. I also wanted to sit and write a real letter to you. I have not been able to do that until now.

You and John helped me to do a very painful and very important job. I missed you both very much when I returned to New York City. You were truly young soul Brothers in my time of sorrow.

The weather here has been very cold- 0 degrees, 5 degrees, 10 degrees and very windy. Sometimes the wind was up to 75 miles per hour (mph). I had to buy a new pair of boots, lined with wool and rubber bottoms, for the snow. It has snowed three times since I came home. As a matter-of-fact, the Sunday I came home it was snowing. There was three inches of snow at La Guardia Airport in New York City. Wow! To come so far, so fast and had to be greeted by snow is a real take-out.

Take care of yourself. You and John help each other and let John learn to do things by doing them. You watch for when he really needs help. I am looking to hear from you.

Thank you again for everything.




Until the next post,

Stay safe 4th Precint. Stay safe Chicago. Stay safe Ferguson.
Prayers to the families who lost love ones from police brutality.


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